THE RICKARDS FAMILY

Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos


Edward James Rickards was born in Bloomsbury on 30 November 1814, the son of George and Frances (née Kettilby), who were married in 1809 at Bathwick, Somerset; Frances' father, the Reverend Samuel Kettilby, had died in the previous year. George was a solicitor in the City of London. In 1851 he was living at Send Grove, Send and most of the children, who were adults, were still at home. Edward, also a solicitor, was then 33. Frances and George died in 1855 and 1857 respectively and were both buried at St Mary, Send.

Edward was obviously courting locally, for the Millett family, later of Tayles Hill, Ewell, had not long moved to Send from Bengal, following Mr Frederic Millett's retirement from the East India Company. On 7 January 1852 at St Mary, Send, Edward married the eldest Millett daughter, Harriet(t) Louisa (born 7 October 1829 Bengal). Harriet seems to have been in England for some time, having been with an aunt in Brighton as far back as 1841.

Mrs Harriet Louisa Rickards (née Millett)
Mrs Harriet Louisa Rickards (née Millett)
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Edward was, if you like, fairly mobile within Surrey, but within a quite small area. I am not exactly sure why he moved around, but I have an idea why he left Epsom, which I will come to.

The first child, Lionel Edward, was born in Banstead in 1853, followed by Geraldine in 1855 (Cheam), Eleanor Laura in 1857 (still in Cheam, but the christening was at Send), Francis Millett (1860, Epsom) and Amy Margaret (1863 Epsom).

Once in Epsom the family rented a property in Church Street, which Brian Bouchard tells us was Parkhurst, which is now Park Place House, Number 24. I think that Mr Rickards wanted to be a 'somebody', with a smart address and a position of authority and he had become an officer in the Surrey Rifles, a Volunteer unit, in which he caused such problems that he eventually resigned his commission … and moved to Leatherhead.

Park Place House formerly Parkhurst
Park Place House formerly Parkhurst
Photograph courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

The full tale of the Surrey Rifles shenanigans appears in The 8th Surrey Rifles at War.

By 1871 the family was ensconced at Elm Bank, Leatherhead, where they stayed. If you read the linked piece by the late Goff Powell, you will see that Edward was a 'somebody' in Leatherhead, whereas I think he had irrevocably blotted his copybook as far as being a top dog in Epsom was concerned.

Edward died of heart disease on 18 August 1893, leaving effects of 44,612 (about 5.4 million in today's terms). The West Surrey Times of 26 August 1893 went to town with its eulogy and account of the funeral and, had Edward been able to hear it, he would have known just how much of a 'somebody' he was in Leatherhead. Harriet remained at Elm Bank until she died on 7 April 1907.

Incidentally, Edward was one of the trustees for the Deepdene Estate, which was in its day the 'greatest estate in the Dorking area'.

Lionel Edward Rickards

We have only one picture of a Rickards son, although there were two. I was working on the assumption that the Rickards photos were taken in the first half of 1863, since Harriet looks pregnant in the image shown earlier and, as far as I know, her last pregnancy was in that year (but, on a cautionary note, there may have been another one between Francis and Amy and the baby did not survive). I did think that the lad in the next photo is very small to be Lionel (born 1853), but he's too old to be Francis (born 1860). The other possibility is that the photos are later than many of the others, in which case this could be Francis. Nevertheless, the two photos we have of Rickards daughters suggest to me that all of the children were rather small for their ages so, looking at them together, I do think this is Lionel.

Probably Lionel Edward Rickards
Probably Lionel Edward Rickards
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Lionel also became a solicitor and was taken into partnership by his father (they worked in the City of London rather than locally). On 11 July 1882 he married Isabel Budd, which was a high society wedding in Leatherhead, as the bride was a daughter of another local somebody, Edward Budd, who was in copper and silver. The couple's abode by 1891 was Kemprow Farm, Aldenham, Hertfordshire.

The couple very much moved in local high society wherever they went. Lionel was keenly into hunting and particularly the hounds; he was also a trustee of the Deepdene Estate, which had belonged to the Duke of Newcastle, and one imagines that he and his father did well out of the fees they would have been allowed to charge for probate and other legal work.

It was the hunting that indirectly did for Lionel in the end. The Sportsman of 31 August 1897 tells us that he had gone to Taunton on business and thought he would stay over for a meet of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds on 10 August. He caught a chill and, on top of one he had caught a few weeks earlier, the result was that he succumbed to pneumonia. He was buried at Aldenham on 17 August 1897.

Geraldine Rickards

Geraldine Rickards
Geraldine Rickards
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

We don't know a huge amount about Geraldine, except that she bred mice to compete in shows and went on a trip up the Nile, her account of which was serialised in local newspapers. Many of you may have been up the Nile, but in 1899, when the articles appeared, it was pretty intrepid for someone who had never set foot outside the UK before. However, this was not a backpacking job, but as luxurious and sanitised as you could imagine, although she did feel a little nervous when the boat eventually set them down and departed. I must say that, had I been sitting at home in 1899 with my morning tea, it would have been a pleasure to open the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser and find descriptions of Cairo, Karnak etc from a local. More entertaining than the Church Schools balance sheet, which appeared next to one of the articles. As for the mice, she scooped the mouse first prize at the annual show of the Leatherhead and District Fancier's Society in 1900, but it was a very tight contest.

It must have been after her mother died that Geraldine moved to Kent; she was there in the 1911 census, living with her married sister, Amy, in Edenbridge. Later on she re-located to Tunbridge Wells, where she died on 15 November 1947, aged 92.

Eleanor Laura Rickards

Eleanor Laura Rickards
Eleanor Laura Rickards
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

In 1879 Eleanor married a Leatherhead curate, the Reverend Alfred Whiston Frost Martell. Alfred then became the Rector of Stepney and, after that, Rector of Buriton, Hampshire and finally, of Long Ditton. It was shortly after he took up the post at Long Ditton that Eleanor died, on 23 August 1909. There were two sons. Alfred died in 1928.

Francis Millett Rickards

Francis was a solicitor in his father's firm. One of the newspapers mentioned how he would somehow find time to fit in his hunting activities with his work, but I think it was possibly the other way round. There is no doubt that if there was a Hunt Ball to be attended, then one or more of the Rickards clan would be there. Francis married Kathleen Mary Blake in 1888. Initially they settled in Station Road, Ashtead but then moved backed to Leatherhead and finally to Harlow, Essex. Francis died on 20 December 1909 of what sounds like a heart attack. His widow remarried.

Amy Margaret Rickards

In 1896 Amy married a man who never seemed to be around, but there was a good reason for that. He was Thomas Herbert Wilford of the Mercantile Marine (a captain for the Union Steamship Company, which eventually became Union Castle). Amy and her children were usually to be found with Mrs Rickards and/or Geraldine in censuses after her marriage, since Thomas was presumably at sea a lot. The couple were living in Surbiton when Thomas died in 1928 and Amy was with Geraldine in Tunbridge Wells in the 1939 Register. Amy died at East Grinstead on 7 July 1946, although she still lived in Tunbridge Wells.

Amy in 1901. Her husband, Thomas is the gentleman on the far right.
Amy in 1901. Her husband, Thomas is the gentleman on the far right.
Image courtesy of Alexander Smith © 2019

'Strays'

I have an extra Millett and an extra Rickards. I am happy about the identity of the latter but uncertain about the former.

The extra Rickards is Edith Cordelia, daughter of Sir George Kettilby Rickards, Edward's brother; this family lived in Cleveland Gardens, Hyde Park at the time. Edith never married and died on 11 March 1929, aged 82.

Edith Cordelia Rickards
Edith Cordelia Rickards
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

And this is Miss Millett. She was a visitor to the Rickards family, and possibly a cousin of Mrs Rickards, as I have nobody left over in the Tayles Hill Millett family. The initial on the wrapper could be interpreted as 'L' but I think it might be 'C' - there is a perennial problem with these two capital letters in the wrapper collection.

'Miss Millett'
'Miss Millett'
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

My best offer for this one is Constance Ann Millett, niece of the late Mr Millett of Tayles Hill, even though it messes up my theory about Mrs Rickards being pregnant with Amy in the first photo of this article. Constance was staying with the Rickards family in the 1861 census, so it might be a reasonable assumption that she was a regular visitor. The fly in my ointment is that she got married on 10 January 1863 (to Alfred Osten Walker), which means that Harriet Rickards could not have been quite heavily pregnant with Amy, who wasn't born until late in August of that year. Or is this an 1862 pregnancy where the baby did not survive or is she not pregnant at all. I don't know the answer to all that, but if you do please contact the webmaster.

Linda Jackson 2019